Unique Customer Service Programs
5 Ways to Increase Customer Service Loyalty During Holiday Season
The hustle and bustle of the holidays is here once again, with retailers large and small looking to increase their bottom line. But, what most of these retailers don't realize is that it will take more than just a "One Day Sale" to keep their customers happy. In fact, a huge dose of superior customer service programs will need to be added to retailers' great deals and bargains, if they want to keep their customers long after the holidays are gone.
It's true - customers will still be driven to stores to purchase the latest gadgets and trendiest fashions this season, especially if the price is right. But, what will keep them coming back over the long-haul is what they experience when they bring all of these items back to the store for exchanges or returns, just a few days later. How will they be treated then?
Why customer service programs matter
There isn't a major retailer in the country that wouldn't say that customer service is a top priority for their business. Sometimes, however, saying it is all that is done. Too many companies simply pay lip service to the idea of customer service - talking the talk, but ultimately failing to deliver.
These companies run the risk of weakening their corporate brand because their lack of customer service is likely generating unhappy customers. When customers are unhappy, they'll tell anyone who'll listen. The effect of this "negative word-of-mouth marketing" can steadily chip away at a company's brand and reputation, causing a catastrophic impact on the bottom line.
At the other end of the scale are the strategic thinking companies: the ones who recognize their company's customer service programs shortcomings and immediately take action to repair the problem. These are the companies that deliver "invisible profits" to their business in the form of happy customers. These are the companies that will drive consumers to their stores whether it's the holidays or just any other day.
Protect Your Brand. Build Customer Service
Naturally, no retailer wants to see its brand weakened by poor customer service. Therefore, to make sure customer service doesn't destroy your brand this season, simply follow these easy steps:
1. Cheerfully Manage Returns and Exchanges
Nothing is worse than a customer bringing their return or exchange to the customer service counter and being met by a frown or smirk on the cashier's face. Believe it or not, some customers already feel uncomfortable bringing returns back to the store in the first place; so, to be greeted by a less than friendly service representative can really make them feel intimidated. Stop trying to frighten your customers when they bring back merchandise to your store. Greet them with a smile, ask them what problems they experienced with the product, and facilitate the return or exchange as quickly as possible. By doing this, you will significantly increase your chances of that same customer coming back next week to purchase additional products from your store.
2. Take Ownership
One of the simplest, and yet most successful routes to exceptional customer service is to take ownership of the complaints you receive. Don't bury your head in the sand: accept that the customer is unhappy and go about fixing the problem. Throughout this process, make sure that the customer knows who has ownership of the issue: customer representatives should give their names, and endeavor to remain with the issue until it is resolved.
3. Be Accountable
As tempting as it is to try to pass the buck, resist the impulse to apportion blame when dealing with a customer complaint: it's unprofessional, and, as far as the customer is concerned, irrelevant. Deal with the issue in hand and make sure that resolving the issue remains the top priority.
4. Seek feedback
It's difficult to know how well you're performing in terms of customer service without asking the people who are best placed to tell you: your customers. Build satisfaction surveys into your processes: send questionnaires with your invoices or encourage staff to ask their customers how satisfied they are at the end of each call. Be aware of what your customers think of your corporation: and make sure any negative impressions are dealt with using the techniques above.
5. Create a culture of customer service from the top down
Although customer-focused staff find themselves at the sharp end of the customer service stick, exceptional customer service start at the very top - the CEO's office. CEO's must embrace the concept of providing exceptional customer service, measuring success and rewarding employees who meet and exceed the standards set.
It's only when all of the above points come into play that the business benefit from the "invisible profits" driven by good customer service. Failure to implement customer service programs could be disastrous, leading to loss of customers, loss of reputation and ultimately loss of profits. Make sure your customer service programs are ones that your customers will talk about- in a good way for years to come.